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Troy discrimination case yet to be resolved

School district denies charges, student stays away from school

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 11:12 p.m. CST
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Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C Superintendent Todd Koehl
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Former Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C Superintendent Don White

PLAINFIELD – Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C has started a new academic year with an alleged racial discrimination case not yet resolved from last year.

A student whose mother has filed multiple charges with state and federal agencies against the school district did not return to Troy schools.

The latest charge is from the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which is investigating allegations that the district’s administration did not protect the student, who is black, from racial harassment and discipline from two white students and a white teacher.

The charge means the department is investigating the claims made by the mother, Joliet resident Catherine Miles-Gresham. The state has not made a ruling on the charge.

The district filed a response to the charge at the end of July, denying the allegations.

Miles-Gresham filed the complaint with the state May 21. She didn’t send her son back to school at Troy.

“I don’t want him back there,” Miles-Gresham said. “This whole situation has only hurt him. He deserves to be treated like a human being.”

Miles-Gresham said her son had to be home-schooled for much of the 2013-14 school year and has developed low self-confidence. She has planned to move since June, but hasn’t found housing. She doesn’t know where she is going to send her son for school this year.

New Troy Superintendent Todd Koehl, who took over in July, denied the allegations in the charges.

“We feel that we’ve done what we need to,” Koehl said Tuesday. “The information that we have show our actions were justified.”

Koehl said the school district is waiting to hear from both the state and federal agencies.

The state charge comes months after Miles-Gresham filed an initial complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. The Office of Civil Rights is investigating the district on Miles-Gresham’s earlier allegations of racial harassment, but hasn’t reached a judgment.

The most recent charge with the state alleges that students at William B. Orenic Intermediate School said racially motivated words to the student. The charge also alleges that a teacher favored other students’ accounts when investigating incidents involving Miles-Gresham’s son.

The allegations span from December through March.

The charge states that on several occasions, Miles-Gresham’s son was called “blackie” and call a derogatory racial slur that starts with an “n.” Also, her son was “lied on and was told that no one likes me.”

The charge alleges that in December her son’s white teacher believed two white female students who accused him of saying inappropriate things without hearing his side. And when the boy reported inappropriate comments said to him, he was told to “ignore it or move away.”

In March, the teacher said that her son looked like he “was from the ‘hood,’” according to the charge.

And May 20, the charge states, a white student accused the boy of making inappropriate comments, leading to him receiving a four-day suspension. The same day, the charge alleges that a white female teacher reportedly told Miles-Gresham’s son that he had a history of saying inappropriate things and when he is older he “could become a dirty comedian.”

Miles-Gresham said she had been contacted former superintendent Don White and former Director of Operations Ken Surma regarding the incidents last school year. White and Surma have since left the district.

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